KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

More Americans Getting Sick From Making Mistakes With Their Medication

Accidentally taking the wrong dose or drug is leading to more “serious medical outcomes,” a study finds. Today's other public health news headlines cover Alzheimer's, artificial sweeteners' role in weight loss, diet and exercise counseling, anorexia, the benefits of dirt, diabetes, belly fat and a bizarre medical case.

NPR: High Alzheimer's Rates Among African-Americans May Be Tied To Poverty
Harsh life experiences appear to leave African-Americans vulnerable to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, researchers reported Sunday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London. Several teams presented evidence that poverty, disadvantage and stressful life events are strongly associated with cognitive problems in middle age and dementia later in life among African-Americans. (Hamilton, 7/16)

NPR: Artificial Sweeteners Don't Help With Weight Loss
The theory behind artificial sweeteners is simple: If you use them instead of sugar, you get the joy of sweet-tasting beverages and foods without the downer of extra calories, potential weight gain and related health issues. In practice, it's not so simple, as a review of the scientific evidence on non-nutritive sweeteners published Monday shows. (Hobson, 7/17)

The New York Times: ‘To The Bone’ Opens Frank Dialogue On Eating Disorders: ‘They Steal Your Voice’
When Marti Noxon set out to make “To the Bone,” a film about a 20-year-old battling an eating disorder, she initially faced the question: Was the topic too niche? The answer came in the form of a rousing premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Netflix’s reported $8 million purchase of the film, a trailer that went viral with 54 million views in the first week and arguments over whether it glamorized excessive thinness. The film debuted on Netflix on Friday. (Minsberg, 7/14)

NPR: 'Dirt Is Good': New Book Explores Why Kids Should Be Exposed To Germs
As a new parent, Jack Gilbert got a lot of different advice on how to properly look after his child: when to give him antibiotics or how often he should sterilize his pacifier, for example. After the birth of his second child, Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, decided to find out what's actually known about the risks involved when modern-day children come in contact with germs. (Garcia-Navarro, 7/16)

Stat: Trying A New Tack: Delivering Insulin To The Liver To Control Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetics, armed with glucose meters and insulin pens, are caught in a delicate high-wire act. Too much glucose wreaks havoc on nerves and blood vessels, while too little causes dizziness and nausea. A Cleveland biotech company is trying to change that by delivering insulin to the liver, where it naturally goes. Diasome has three phase 2 clinical trials in progress testing nanoparticles known as hepatocyte-directed vesicles. These particles, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, stick to insulin like Velcro and bring it to the liver. Diasome believes its approach will better manage patients’ blood sugar than administering insulin alone. (Wosen, 7/17)

Stat: Redeeming Qualities For Belly Fat? When It's Actually The Omentum, Sure
Look down. See any belly fat? The answer should be yes, for everyone — because that fat pad isn’t just sitting there quietly. Some of it is actually part of an organ called the omentum. And the omentum — specifically, its immune cells — may be where researchers need to focus if they want to find new treatments for some stubborn cancers that have spread. Researchers like Troy Randall hope that might be possible if we understand a bit better how the omentum works. Randall and his team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have looked at how omentum’s immune cells respond in ovarian cancer; they published a review paper about the organ’s immune system in Trends in Immunology in June. (Sheridan, 7/14)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.